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BDSM conjures sinister images of sickening violence in the minds of the unaware. However, it may ironically disturb you to find out that experts believe those who practice it have better mental health than the rest of us!

 

BDSM is one of the most misunderstood sexual lifestyles. When the average unenlightened person visualizes what must occur in a BDSM scenario, usually they imagine the depraved activities described by the Marquis de Sade.

Many people would be surprised to find out that the mental health of those who practice BDSM-related activities is generally quite superior to their “vanilla” counterparts.

 

 

According to a paper published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2013, “several more recent studies suggest a relative good psychological health of BDSM practitioners.

Researchers Andreas Wismeijer and Marcel van Assen set about comparing the mental health of 902 practitioners of BDSM with 434 control participants. They measured each study candidate using the so-called Big Five personality dimensions. Additionally, they tested them for their attachment styles, subjective well-being, and rejection sensitivity.

 

Studies show that mentally healthy people enjoy BDSM and kink

According to the results of the study “BDSM practitioners were less neurotic, more extroverted, more open to new experiences, more conscientious, less rejection sensitive, had higher subjective well-being, yet were less agreeable.

Those in dominant roles scored highest, next were those who preferred submissive roles. Finally, the control group provided the lowest scores.

Humans have been practicing BDSM, and other kinky sexual practices, for millennia. However, society has always ultimately found a way to stigmatize its practitioners. There are accounts of BDSM style practices that date as far back as Mesopotamia.

Many ancient artifacts depict scenes showing BDSM behaviors. Even the Kama Sutra describes acceptable ways to hit one’s partner during sex.

 

 

Practicing BDSM is as old as time itself

It was as early as the 17th century that extremely rare books revealed the existence of professional Dominatrixes. Flagellation brothels would take in aristocratic, political and royal clientele. Many powerful men wished to emulate the fantasy of Aristotle and Phyllis, a famous Renaissance painting.

According to legend, philosopher Aristotle derived pleasure from his student Alexander the Great’s lover Phyllis.

Allegedly, Phyllis demanded that Aristotle “come to my chamber crawling on hand and foot, to carry me like a horse.” According to the historical record, Aristotle complied and became the subject of ridicule. Countless paintings and sculptures have depicted this scene throughout the centuries, even till the modern day.

 

The unambiguous boundaries of BDSM clarify the human condition

It is no surprise that BDSM is a common thread throughout history. After all, practitioners emulate the stark extremes of the core concepts that represent the human condition.

It is these stark extremes that appear to lend themselves to unambiguous boundaries, which unfortunately are lacking in more common “vanilla” human relationships.

BDSM is an umbrella term that covers three types of kinks: B&D is bondage and discipline, D&S is domination and submission, and S&M is sadism and masochism. BDSM is primarily about power dynamics, and specifically about role-playing these in pre-arranged agreements.

Unfortunately, the recent book and film 50 Shades of Grey perpetuated many myths about BDSM. Many practitioners have spoken against the novel. 

They state how the author had nil to inadequate knowledge of the lifestyle. Additionally, they believe that the protagonists were not in a real BDSM relationship.

 

 

Since the dawn of time, power and lust have been entwined

Humans, as well as other living creatures, demonstrate pecking orders, or hierarchies. The very nature of lust, desire and hunger can become predatory, due to its source in the reptilian part of every living creatures brain.

Therefore humankind has sought to find ways to explore this part of their nature with their more advanced prefrontal cortex.

 

In many ways, the practice of BDSM seeks to exercise these power dynamics safely. Clearly, this world is riddled with horror and bloodshed because these power dynamics specifically are not contained and controlled.

 

 

The irony of BDSM practices, which seem so frightening to many ordinarily sexed people, is that the power dynamics don’t create as much harm as they do for those with a “vanilla” sexual appetite.

 

Integral nature of communication and consent within BDSM

Practitioners of BDSM always stress the core importance of communication before, during and after “play.” Additionally, consent is integral. Indeed, in many “vanilla” relationships, communication and consent remain a grey area, which breeds tremendous problems.

Happiness is dependant on clarity, and clarity is sorely lacking between humans. Consenquently, this leads to clashes between nations and global strife. In contrast, it appears as though BDSM is based upon clarity itself. Certainly, it could make you feel disappointed if you are not attracted to such extreme kinks!

Authors of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) only decided to remove kink from diagnostic criteria as recently as 2013. Therefore, many stigmas remain within our society regarding the practices. Sadly, many fear those who participate in the lifestyle, believing it to be some kind of mental illness.

 

 

Mental Health practitioners perpetuate the unfair stigmatization

However, studies clearly show that the opposite is the case. For a long time, mental health professionals assumed that practitioners exhibited kinky desires due to childhood trauma or abuse.

But now they are beginning to recognize that they themselves are likely to be the primary contributors and perpetuators of the shame associated with BDSM. In fact, many therapists around the world still need to catch up with the times and stop treating clients with such proclivities as disturbed or abnormal.

Most people who enjoy a BDSM lifestyle did not have a traumatic childhood filled with abuse or neglect. However, ironically, the few who did find that their lifestyle provides a kind of therapeutic catharsis, and many claim to feel empowered by their activities.

 

Kink practitioners ironcially more sensitive to partners than regular “vanilla” couples

Another irony is indeed that we “vanilla” folk could do with learning a thing or two from practitioners of BDSM. Of course, not necessarily how to wield a whip or tie up the object of our desire! Practitioners of BDSM, such as the YouTubers who run the channel Watts The Safeword present educational videos about how to safely and authentically practice their chosen lifestyle.

 

 

YouTubers Amp and Bolt present information which could do well to be understood by those who don’t even practice BDSM. For example, they clearly describe the concept of aftercare, whereby the couple who has completed play must become sensitive to the hormonal drop each will consequently experience.

Such things sound like common sense, however, in regular vanilla relationships they are generally absent.

Indeed, life is full of surprise treasure troves of wisdom, in the most unlikely of places, that we should all be humble enough to learn from.

 

References: Psychcentral,The History & Arts of The Dominatrix, Playboy, Medical Daily

Image credit: pixabay.com